December 3, 2009

How Can You Combat Climate Change? Nobel Laureate & Music Legend Say Eat Less Meat One Day a Week

Ralph Loglisci

Ralph Loglisci

Food and Health Policy Writer

Nobel Laureate Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Sir Paul McCartney, former Beatles superstar turned environmental activists addressed the European Parliament (EP) today (Dec. 3. 2009) in hopes of encouraging legislators to consider what actions Europeans can personally take to combat global warming, such as going Meatless on Monday. Today’s hearing entitled “Global Warming and Food Policy: Less Meat = Less Heat” was organized by EP Vice-President Edward McMillan-Scott and opened by Parliament’s President Jerzy Buzek.
Citing the United Nation’s report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, Pachauri and McCartney warned that global meat production is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined. The United Kingdom Press Association (UKPA) quoted McCartney as saying, “People are confused about what they can do – they can try one meat-free day a week. It’s kind of interesting once you get into it.”

Dr. Robert Lawrence, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, who has long supported and served as a scientific advisor for the Meatless Monday Campaign, was invited to attend today’s hearing in Brussels. While he couldn’t make it to Belgium in time, he did provide EP leaders with a letter. Below is an excerpt:

As the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, I applaud the European Parliament and Vice-President Edward McMillan-Scott for convening today’s global warming hearing and recognizing the importance of opening a worldwide dialogue regarding meat production’s contributions to climate change. As one of the first supporters of the Meatless Monday Campaign, I also applaud Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri and Sir Paul McCartney for encouraging individuals concerned about their “carbon footprints” to eat less meat. Reducing the amount of meat we eat just one day a week, particularly meat from industrially produced food animals, can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and many other negative environmental and public health effects attributed to industrial food animal production.

Dr. Lawrence wasn’t the only American to submit a letter to the EP. The UKPA reported former Vice President Al Gore, who shared Dr. Pachauri’s Nobel Peace Price in 2007, supports the Meatless Monday concept:

Sir Paul read out a statement from US climate change guru Al Gore, which said: “Meatless Mondays is a responsible and welcome component to a strategy for reducing global pollution.”

In conjunction with today’s EP hearing, Pachauri and McCartney sent letters to mayors across Europe encouraging them to adopt Meat-free days and touted Baltimore City Public Schools as a successful example. Below is an excerpt:

Local governments can certainly play a role in helping citizens to reduce their intake of meat and other animal products. We would like to bring to your attention the campaigns for weekly meatless days that are appearing in different parts of the world. Notably in the case of the city of Ghent, Belgium, such a campaign was carried out in partnership between an NGO and the city government. Together they have distributed maps of the city highlighting vegetarian eateries, how-to brochures for restaurants and changed the menu in city restaurants. Ghent has also introduced a weekly vegetarian day in all 35 city schools, an initiative which has also been enacted in schools in the city of Baltimore, USA.

Not everyone at the EP supported the meat free concept, The UKPA quoted Irish European Parliament member Mairead McGuinness as saying, “We were told (at school) to give up meat on Friday to save our soul, and now we are being told to give up meat on Monday to save our planet and, frankly, neither will work.” However as Dr. Lawrence stated in his letter to the EP, “While there are no simple remedies for complex issues surrounding meat production, one thing is clear, reducing the amount of meat we eat is a good first step.”


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